Sunday, October 31, 2010

Florida Day 6: Hollywood in FL, The Twilight Zone, and More Flashes

Day 6-Thursday 10/14

After a big breakfast at Denny's, we went to Disney's Hollywood Studios. I thought that it was going to be similar to California Adventures, but they had a lot of things CA doesn't have. (click to enlarge!)

I had a great time on The Great Movie Ride. I just found it really cleverly done and I love movies. At one point, a gangster named Mugsy came by and hijacked us from our narrator. We were asked not to take flash photography, but of course I messed up once again and I blinded Mugsy. I was really embarrassed and The Hubby confiscated the camera for a bit.

We were taken into scenes from some famous movies. I especially loved the "Mary Poppins" remake and I got a great kick out of seeing one of the merry go round horses from the famous Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious scene (and, yes, I did Google that). 

The Wicked Witch even made an appearance in Munchkin Land. The animatronics looked so real that I thought the Witch was an actor too.

There were a lot more shows than rides at Hollywood Studios. The Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show was really spectacular (video here). I can't even imagine how much work goes into each show and the precision that each stunt requires. Some of the cars were doing tricks backwards, but later they showed us how they had altered the car so that the driver's seat was actually at the rear. 

The Indiana Jones Epic Stunts Spectacular showed the audience how action scenes in the movies are made.

We didn't get to do Toy Story Mania because the wait was too long. Some kids were getting autographs and pictures with the toy soldiers, but I thought he was a little scary with the netting over his face.

I was slightly disappointed with the Studio Backlot Tour because the one in Universal Studios is so much better. Pop knew that water was going to flow over the top of our tram on the left side so he made Nana sit on that side.

My favorite ride has always been Tower of Terror and I have been on it enough times to know exactly when the first drop is. The Hubby had always mentioned how the one in Disney World is bigger and better than the one in CA and he was right!

Instead of just being raised up until you finally dropped, you actually go further inside the building into a separate room. Watch this video here to see what I mean. I tried to get my own video of the entire ride, but my camera stopped taping. I did get it recording in time to get at least part of our actual drop so those screams you hear are mine.

As you can see in the picture below, the hotel building is wider than the one in CA. My heart was racing because I had no idea when we were going to drop or what was going to happen next.

Funny story (probably funnier for us than for Nana): Nana does not ride in regular elevators so she was definitely not going to ride a haunted one. I kept reassuring her that there would be an exit at the end of the line since there is on in CA and I told her that there is no way she would have to ride if she didn't want to. It turns out, however, that the only way to exit the building from that point other than being on the ride was by an elevator! They ended up unlocking chained doors and leading her through some secret back way in order to get her out!

The Hubby and I rode on the Rock n' Roller Coaster on our own. We stood in the single riders line to get a shorter wait time. There were multiple signs telling us that we would be separated, but we were seated together by chance anyway--our third time breaking the system. I would compare this ride to Space Mountain, but with loops.

The night ended with us watching Fantasmic in their Hollywood Bowl inspired stadium seating. It was a lot easier to enjoy the show while sitting in seats instead of trying to look in between shoulders and heads back at Disneyland. The show in Florida is vastly different (video here). I can't say if I liked it more or less, but it was really wonderful and a great dose of Disney magic as it included characters from more movies.

Up next: Fancy Chocolate, Putt Putt and White Sands

*Paper elements from Pugly Pixel

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you have bigger and better plans than I do. Bella and I are planning on hiding out in the dark. There are a lot of kids in this neighborhood, and I'm sure that Bella and I would go absolutely bonkers with the door bell going off every ten minutes.

In my old neighborhood, all the kids grew up together so when I was finally old enough to hand out candy, there were no kids left to hand it out to, which was fine by me. That just meant I could eat all the chocolate on my own.

The Hubby was really close to buying a costume for Bella from Target. I think she actually would have liked it because she actually gets really excited when I put something on her. Such a diva.

The Hubby banned me from painting Bella and turning her into a tiger dog. Instead, I bought her a stuffed spider toy. I knew she would love it because it has a squeaker, is fluffy, and has flappy parts to hit her face when she shakes it around in her mouth. Plus, Petsmart had everything Halloween on clearance so I love it too. 

Hey, are you lookin' at me?

Where didja go?

Aha! I got ya!

Alright, Ma. Enough with the pictures!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Florida Day 5: Mulan, Nemo, and How I Almost Lost My Breakfast

Day 5-Wednesday 10/13

Pop and Nana surprised us by announcing on Tuesday that we were going to Disney World. We left early Wednesday morning for Orlando, a three hour drive. I brilliantly brought along a blanket for the car ride so I was able to get a few more hours of sleep than anyone else. 

One thing I noticed right away was that the parks are much larger than the ones in California and are spread further apart. You actually have to drive in order to get to a different park since they are not just across from each other. 

I did not take as many pictures as I wanted to because my camera's battery was about to die. The Disney pictures on Pop's camera disappeared too (probably because we entered The Twilight Zone) so I had to borrow some from the Disney website. Basically, the pictures below that look nicer than what I am capable of taking are from their official website.

We spent two days at Disney World and chose to attend Epcot the first day. They were having their annual Food and Wine Festival at the time and were selling kitchen items along with different foods at separate booths for each country.

(click to enlarge)

The very first ride we went on was Spaceship Earth. It was strange to go on new rides and not know exactly what was going to happen. Spaceship Earth sends you back in time and shows you the path to civilization today. Near the end of the ride, you are prompted to answer questions based on your lifestyle and then it processes your choices and shows you what your life will be like in the future. 

I had been looking forward to Mission: Space since that was all The Hubby could talk about. There are two "teams" you can choose to be on and of course The Hubby wanted to try the more intense training team. I saw at least three warnings that the more intense training was not suited for those with motion sickness, but The Hubby said I would be fine. I was not fine.

It works like a flight simulator and you sit in a tiny space capsule and stare straight at a screen. The capsule jolts and spins quickly so that you feel the G forces against your body. You are prompted by actor Gary Sinise to press certain buttons during your flight in order to finish your mission. As soon as we "took off", I knew that it was going to be bad. I had to repeat in my head that I was okay and luckily I did not have to use the motion sickness bags provided by each seat.

I felt awful afterwards and I blamed my husband completely for making telling me that I was going to be fine. Nana and Pop were the smart ones who stayed away from this journey to Mars.

The Seas with Nemo & Friends was a really nice aquarium filled with various fish, sting rays, jellyfish, manatees, and dolphins. The actual Nemo ride was pretty similar to the submarine ride at Disneyland, but instead you sit in a clamobile so it was far less claustrophobic. See video here

I always seem to use the flash on accident when I'm told not to, like during the play "Annie" while we were in Austin. What happens is that I think I can get better pictures if I change the camera to a night setting, but always forget that the flash is part of that setting. You'll see this again in my next post.

The folks at Disney really took some care in the detail of each country in the World Pavilion. We actually waited in line to take a picture with Mulan in China because it is so hard to find her in CA. I felt a little embarrassed because I was probably the oldest person who wanted a picture with her. But Mulan didn't care. She even asked me if I was there to join her army. Heck yeah!

We also watched the Dragon Legend Acrobats perform and they were quite amazing. I felt a little bad for them though because I just know that their childhoods are probably all about training and not much else. There was not much space for an audience so everyone was asked to sit down. It's amazing how angry some can get when it comes to others blocking their view. There were many people shouting, "Move!" or "Sit down!"

We didn't get to see all of the countries because we had to leave for a bit to check in at our hotel and get some dinner, but we did see Norway, Germany, Mexico, and a little bit of France. We also saw IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Video here.

Our last ride was Soarin' and it is exactly like the one in CA. The line was over an hour long, but they really did something clever to make the wait shorter. There was a series of interactive games that often required team work. Here is a video from YouTube. 

I was pretty upset that no one was playing along when we were racing birds that reacted to our body movements, as seen below.

The Hubby took a video of me trying to pop blobs on the screen. As you can see, I got really into it. I even took of my jacket because I started to sweat.

Most of the rides in Epcot are educational. Even the "high-speed" ride Test Track taught us what kinds of tests cars have to go through before they are sold to the public.

We ended our night by going on a ride on the Monorail in hopes to spot parts of the other parks at Disney World. Unfortunately, we didn't see much at all and were very tired.

On our way to the minivan, Nana noticed that a part of her skin on her leg looked inflamed and we went to the emergency room to make sure that everything was fine. We got back to our room very late, but we surprisingly were ready for Disney Day Two the next morning. 

Up next: Hollywood in FL, The Twilight Zone, and More Flashes

*Paper elements from Pugly Pixel

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Florida Day 4: Naples, Gators and an Almost Murder

Day 4-Tuesday 10/12

Ever since arriving in Florida, I had been searching for alligators everywhere we went. Tuesday was cooler than the past few days so we weren't sure if we were going to spot any, but we saw at least five during our air boat ride. There's something exhilarating about having nothing but a boat in between you and a killer animal. 

Gators are big tourist attractions and so there were many different places offering air boat rides. The place we went to had a shack of an office. Their parking lot was full of fire ants and they were eating us alive. 

To my terror, I had to go to the bathroom really badly and all that they had was a port-a-potty. It was a terrible experience, and I almost threw up while I was in that horrible confined space. Nana laughed at me when she saw me taking a picture of it because she knew that it was going to turn up on my blog. (Click to enlarge)

The air boat sped through the water really quickly. I think our captain went directly into the tall grass on purpose to give us an extra thrill. That just resulted us in being splattered by bugs and water. 

The captain stopped whenever he spotted a gator. He would then throw leaves into the water, causing the gators to come closer and check on the disturbance. My hair was absolutely out of control as you can see in one of the pictures below. The views were quite spectacular, too.

At one point, we were sandwiched by two alligators and I was very thankful to be in a sturdy boat. I kept thinking about how The Hubby once walked across similar swamps during Ranger School. I asked him if he preferred the ice water during the winter time or the warmer weather with the gators. He quickly answered that he preferred the freezing temperatures.

I took a lot of pictures during our tour. My favorite is the one with Pop making a funny face behind us. One man who sat behind Nana insisted on splashing the water with his hands and even pet one of the gators not once, but twice! It could have been a very traumatizing event for all of us.

Watch the video before to see the stupid man and his crazy antics.

Then it was time to hold a real live gator. Nana and The Hubby's little brother held a three month old gator back in July so I felt that I could too. But then the captain talked about how the eight week old gators were nasty and bit him to the point where he had trouble pulling them off his finger. No, thank you!

Of course, The Hubby grabbed it quickly and look how happy he was. Typical boy. I compromised and decided to just stroke it with my finger. My heart began to calm down and I felt brave enough to grab it. I was fairly proud of myself for the first fifteen seconds until it snapped its head back at me and I screamed. I felt my hands squeeze and I am certain that I was close to snapping its little neck.

After that little adventure, we went to Naples Pier and saw yet another beautiful beach. There were many people fishing off of the pier on a Tuesday afternoon. Oh, what a life! Fishers would throw their catch right on the pier and kick it to the side and keep on fishing for dinner.

The neighborhood was full of even more mansions. I'm told that Naples is the Beverly Hills of that area. We had some expensive cupcakes from a hidden place called Sassy Cakes. I've never been a fan of buying overpriced cupcakes since I know I am capable of baking them myself. Wouldn't it be wonderful to own a cupcakery?

Up next: Mulan, Nemo, and how I almost lost my breakfast

*Paper elements from Pugly Pixel

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Florida Day 3: Edison, Ford and a Lizard Intruder

Day 3-Monday 10/11

On Monday morning, Nana and The Hubby went to the gym bright and early. I decided to go for a two-mile walk around the community. At one point, I decided that I could run a bit. It felt amazing! Birds were chirping, people rolled around in their golf carts, and the sun was shining brightly. For the first minute or so that is. Then my body gave out on me and screamed bloody murder. I passed by some old men walking and one yelled, "Hey! No speeding!"

A small lizard had scurried in the house and hid in Pop's office. The following picture is of The Hubby and Nana trying to get it out from under the desk. It was quite a sight. 

Later, we went to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. Did you know that these two were best pals and next door neighbors? Their vacation homes were waterfront properties right on the Caloosahatchee River. (As always, click to enlarge)

We took a guided tour around the properties and were able to peek into the beautiful homes.

My favorite parts of The Estates were the gardens. They were so gorgeous. I wish we could have just sat by the river for most of the day. 

There were numerous picture opportunities there and we sure took many!

*Paper elements from Pugly Pixel

P.S. Is it bad that the only reason I really need The Hubby to call me tonight is so I can ask:
-Should I take care of the hornet's nest that is multiplying exponentially in our backyard or wait for him?
-Where the heck is the spider poison because I've already seen three today and it's time to reinforce our barriers. Air freshener just isn't cutting it.
-A humongous spider decided to crawl upwards towards the hornet's nest when I approached it. Is it possible that the two beasts will take care of each other, rendering the above questions useless?

Texas creatures are trying to make my life miserable.

Edit: They're actually yellow jackets. Not sure why I had the word "hornets" in my mind.

Up next: Naples, Gators and an Almost Murder

Florida Day 2: Beaches, Mansions and Monster Spiders

Day 2-Sunday 10/10

The beaches in Florida are beautiful and the weather could not have been better. We headed to Sanibel Island after church and breakfast. The area was pretty empty except for a restaurant called The Island Cow  where we stopped off for lunch. The "udderly delicious" portions were huge and the restaurant was really cleverly decorated.

We drove around and saw some of the biggest homes I have ever seen. I will never understand why some people think painting a house pink is a good idea. The Hubby fell asleep at some point and had his mouth wide open. Pop almost captured a picture of it, but he woke up just in time to swat the camera away.

Our next stop was the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We searched for gators, but didn't see any. Instead, we encountered gigantic spiders. The Hubby was able to spot some easily before anyone else--something he learned during Ranger School.

We saw many things flying in and out of the water. Pop said that they were snook fish. No, not Snooki...

Here is a video of the jumping snooks:

Later that day, The Hubby and I took a dip in the pool. Bella would have loved it! We ate delicious shrimp spaghetti paired with wine (I had Coke Zero) for dinner. After stuffing ourselves completely, we took a walk in the dark around their gated community. The men were horrible to us women by talking about how the alligators like to move around at night.

Up next: Edison, Ford and a Lizard Intruder

*Paper elements from Pugly Pixel

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Brain Dump

Random thoughts, happenings and rants:

I don't know how to explain this...

  • Rediscovered the greatness of Britney recently. Thank you, "Glee".
  • The Hubby knows the lyrics of *NSYNC and Spice Girls better than I do.
  • Thank goodness for our Ninja Master Prep. It shaved down the prep time for Oreo truffles by at least 45 minutes. Kudos.
  • The cost of ingredients for the bake sale probably does not cover the profits. But at least I have something to do with my spare time now.
  • Currently being continuously kicked by a spoiled dog on the couch. -->
  • Day 3 of The Husbandless Month almost completed. No tears, although almost had a breakdown while shopping at the PX today.
  • Currently addicted to "Friday Night Lights". Makes me want to check out a high school football game here in Texas. There are numerous scenes where they just drive in the middle of nowhere. They definitely filmed on location. 
  • New neighbors have dogs. Dogs that like to howl into the night. And day. Why can't Labradors howl?
  • Found a phone in the parking lot today and was able to find its owner by making several phone calls. Glad to make a difference in somebody's day.
  • I can't believe Audrina left "DWTS" before Palin's daughter. Do you agree with me, Nana?
  • Will have an overnight visitor tomorrow. Welcome back, Penny!
  • Was fairly satisfied with having Netflix instead of cable until I discovered that I would not be able to watch any Lakers games until the Playoffs. 
  • Dessert week including bake sale recaps scheduled for next week. 

Florida Day 1: Fort Lauderdale, Food, and Monkeys

Pop sent over a CD with all of his pictures from our vacation in Florida. I am so happy to begin a recap of our wonderful trip. I recommend clicking on the pictures to enlarge them for a closer look.

Day 1-Saturday 10/09

We took a direct flight from Austin on Jet Blue and left our car in long-term parking. I'm telling you this because it will play a role on Day 7...Oh, the suspense! The Hubby failed to bring his own ear phones so we shared mine and watched the same channel. It was quite annoying as I wanted to watch the dog special on Animal Planet while he insisted on watching the History Channel.

The Fort Lauderdale airport plays the Macarena song when it is alerting passengers that the baggage carousel is about to move instead of the usual loud blaring noise. As we were exiting the terminal, a recorded voice said, "Hello! You are beautiful!" What a great first impression, Florida! Well played.

Nana and Pop rolled up in their green minivan and gave us great big hugs. We then drove around Fort Lauderdale's beach town and saw girls in teeny tiny bikinis and men in speedos. Some overweight old dudes have absolutely no shame.  

We ate dinner at the 15th Street Fisheries. What a treat! From the dock, you could see personal yachts parked in the backyards of mansions. We ate in the upstairs dining area, which is the more expensive "classier" menu than the dockside cafe.  

Yelp reviews for the downstairs area were not very kind, but the food was pretty amazing upstairs. I loved the presentation of everything so of course I had to take close-up shots. We didn't leave a single delicious bite on our plates. 

Nana, Pop and I ordered from a special menu that was a three course meal for a great price. We all ordered different desserts and the four of us sampled a bit of everything. What's funny is that we all claimed that we were too stuffed to eat another bite, but look how we scraped the plates clean!

It was finally time to head to Bonita Springs and settle into our home for the week. Florida is unusual in that there are very few neighborhoods, but the area is prevalent with gated communities. Many of these communities have their own golf courses, clubs and fitness center.

All the homes are well manicured and looked like Wisteria Lane. Everyone had swimming pools and jacuzzis that were covered to keep out the bugs.

Nana's nickname is "Monkey". I really don't know the story behind that, but over time she has accumulated a mass amount of monkeys for her house. I know that I didn't get all of them, but here is a collage of the ones I could find.

Up next: Beaches, Mansions, and Monster Spiders

*Paper elements from Pugly Pixel

Monday, October 25, 2010

Virtual Shopping: Anthropologie

Window shopping is fun, but virtual shopping is even better. You see, it's harder to curb your urges when the object you desire is right in front of you. But with the internet, you have to deal with shipping costs, entering your billing information, and clicking at least three "are you sure?" buttons before processing your purchase. 

The best part of it is that I could completely ignore the hefty price tags and just "purchase" whatever I wanted...even if it is excessive and wasteful. 

Besides, stores are limited here at Fort Hood. And I heard that one of the best ways to achieve your purchasing goals is by listing out what you want so that you always have it in mind.

Here is my shopping list from Anthropologie. It looks like I'm attracted to blues and greens. Although Anthropologie also sells clothing, I am more interested in their home goods. Just shows you how I have more of an interest in completing our house than my wardrobe. 

1. Vernal Cusp Rug2. Hot Spot Rolling Pin3. Flame Leaf Bowl4. Dotty Match Pot Holder5. Storybook Romance Dishtowels6. Paper Sketch Vase7. Farmer's Egg Crate8. Cadiz Mug9. Mix Well Recipe Cards10. Trumpeting Twosome Shakers

Aren't these aprons too pretty to mess up with spills and splatters?
1. Bountiful Bubbles Apron2. Tea and Crumpets Apron3. Sewing Basket Apron4. 3-D Toile Full Apron5. Dotty Match Apron6. Buttoned Lace Apron

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You've Got Mail

Last month, I came across a free fabric offer from Prudent Baby. All I had to do was submit a video of me reading a piece of  "Prudent Advice for My Baby Daughter". I will definitely think of getting the book version for any future mothers of daughters or any woman in my life with a birthday coming up. 

I chose to read Prudent Advice #174 and Bella was my co-star.

I found this in our mailbox after we came home Saturday night. I love that the postage stamp is the Calvin and Hobbes stamp I mentioned before.
 And inside was this pretty pretty fabric.
  I have no idea what I am going to do with it yet. Maybe a fat quarter apron...if I ever splurge for a sewing machine that is.
 But wait! There was something else for me in the mail. This one was from Disneyland?
 Actually, it was my friend Rebecca being sweet and sending me some Disney magic. 
Thanks for something in the mail other than credit card applications and bills!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our Home, Yo!

The Hubby found this video while we were still living in a hotel room when we first moved here. It seems like this entire place has the area code of 254. Companies don't state their area codes when they advertise their phone numbers because it is just assumed.

Still want to visit us, family?

P.S. Here's The Hubby's "On Repeat"--Oh, you fancy, huh? Hellz yeah!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sh*t My Dog Ruined 2

The Hubby and I went to run some errands today. I love that he always has to list "Relax" on his to-do lists as if that is something he will forget to do if he doesn't write it down. We thought we would leave Bella in the backyard instead of her crate because she was left outside all the time with Penny.


While we were out, The Hubby kept saying, "I hope Bella is still there when we get back" jokingly. When we pulled up to our house, he said, "Is that Bella?" I didn't believe him until I saw our Labrador crossing the street. Who knows how long she was roaming the neighborhood?

Here is the damage:
 And here she is trying to break out again through her new hole.
 What am I going to do with this girl?
 Think we can get away with this when they check the house for damages when we move? Who am I kidding? There is no way we are getting our security deposit back.
This is what the door leading from the laundry room to the garage looks like. She used to be locked up in there when we left the house.  
 The little terror will always be locked in her crate from here on out.

But, really. How long can you actually be angry at a dog with this face?

See Sh*t My Dog Ruined Part One here